Five years after BRHS graduation, Riley Sullivan’s career goal is reality

Fri, 03/01/2024 - 8:00am

    From her earliest years, Boothbay Region High School 2019 graduate Riley Sullivan wanted to be a nurse. Today, less than one year after receiving her registered nurse (RN) certification from University of Maine in Orono, she is achieving her dream.

    Since last September, Sullivan has been living in Boston and working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in general medicine. She hopes to specialize after gaining more experience. "I'm torn between ER, oncology and hospice," she told the Register recently in a phone interview, adding that she likes to work under pressure but also enjoys the compassionate side of nursing. "I like getting to be by the bedside."

    At Beth Israel, her patients range from 20 to 105 years old. 

    Asked when she first thought about a nursing career, she said she wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember, but excitement about it developed during science and health lessons in Debby Jones' third grade class.

    In high school, Sullivan pursued her goal. “I took anatomy and physiology with Mrs. (Sherrie) Hersom and AP biology with Mrs. (Emily) Higgins." When the time came to apply to colleges, she relied on trusted college counselors Hannah Johnson and Kerrin Erhard who she said were extremely helpful with her college applications and decision, as was track and ski coach Nick Scott.

    The transition from high school to college was helped by the fact that, "UMaine has a community aspect and I found a great group of friends," she explained.  She entered the school of nursing and her first semesters were spent in the classroom and the lab. "I loved it immediately," she said. By spring of her sophomore year, Sullivan was able to learn about clinical aspects.

    Sullivan grew up in Boothbay Harbor. Her parents Kathryn and Peter and her brother Matthew live here. "Nursing school was so hard, I can't put it into words," she said. "They were so sympathetic and received many late night calls and they were always there." Her great-great aunt was also a nurse and Sullivan was gifted with her "Nurse's Bible" from the 1950s by cousin Judy Coady.

    During her senior year at UMaine, Sullivan was in a clinical partnership at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. "I had a great experience at Mid Coast, but I wanted to learn at a bigger hospital." She took the job at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  surprised Sullivan because while in Maine patients tend to be older, in Boston she has had patients whose ages ranged from 20 to 105.

    Sullivan is experienced with achieving goals. A National Honor Society member and outstanding athlete on the Nordic ski and track teams, her favorite sport was field hockey and she made the National Field Hockey Coaches Association High School National Academic Squad. Sullivan was on the Mountain Valley Conference academic all-star team her senior year at BRHS.

    Asked about her time at BRHS, she said, "I have nothing but positive things to say about the experience. I had a compassionate group of teachers and was guided in the right direction to do what I'd always wanted to do."